St Stephen's, London
15 – 27 May 2006
The Wars of the Roses are over and Edward IV,
the 'party prince', rules England. However, the king's brother, Richard of Gloucester, is in no mood to join the fun...
Emerging from the shadows in the spectacular derelict setting of St Stephen’s, Richard scythes his way through a cast of scheming nobles, incompetent assassins and wailing queens to seize the crown.
But as the body count rises, Richard finds that a throne founded on blood offers little security...
Ham & High:
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"The early Victorian architects had a great appetite for the Gothic and St Stephen's, built in 1869, is no exception. Its impressive interior provides a perfect atmosphere for Shakespeare's wonderful melodrama, written to exalt Queen Elizabeth's grandfather Henry VII and to debunk and destroy the reputation of the "evil" Richard from whom he had purloined the English throne.
Director Ben Horslen and designer John Risebero have performed a miracle of setting for this production. The audience is seated in double rows on either side of the central tiled aisle, which is where the action takes place.
Tony Austin is hardly conventional casting physically, being burly and decidedly non spider-like in appearance, but he makes a villainous, crippled Richard who holds our attention and respect while extracting every ounce of comedy from his wicked manipulations.
He is surrounded by an exceptionally effective company. The vengeful Queen Margaret is powerfully portrayed by Gaynor Bassey. Charlie Palmer is a charming Buckingham who can go along with Richard until the final unspeakable deed, and James Alex Hutchinson rends our hearts as the unfortunate Clarence, doubling this performance with Tyrrel, the murderer of the two little princes.
This is a well edited and inventive production with atmospheric music, effective lighting, exemplary acting and direction. Bless them all for bringing back to life this magnificent old building."